Category: Background Techniques

I’ve decided to go right back to basics and revisit one of the very first background techniques I ever tried! Elastic Band Brayering!

This is a background that everyone can do because everyone has elastic bands in their house, if you don’t; chances are the local postman has dropped some in the street recently (that’s how I got mine!)


  • Thick Elastic Bands
  • Brayer – with removable roller (Woodware or Ranger)
  • White Card Stock
  • Versamark or Embossing Inkpad
  • Embossing Powder – Metallic, Clear or White
  • Newspaper
  • Adirondak Colorwash Sprays – any colour (I use them all!)
  • Sponge
  • Kitchen Towelling


  1. Remove roller from brayer, take 2 rubber bands, wrap and twist around the roller, spread them out to cover the entire width, re-assemble brayer back together again.
  1. Place white card onto newspaper, ink brayer with versamark inkpad, randomly roll across the surface of the card. Repeat this step, each time rolling in a different direction. Don’t worry about overlapping as you want to be completely random, continue until you have completely rolled the entire card surface.
  1. Pour embossing powder over the pattern and heat set. White or clear creates a more traditional faux batik effect. I used gold on some backgrounds, on others I used a white pearl as I wanted a shimmer effect.
  1. Once cooled; take 1 colourwash spray and lightly mist over the surface of the card, use a sponge to spread the colour across the card and remove all traces of the white card base colour.
  1. Next take 2-3 different colours of colourwash sprays: stream, wild plum and butterscotch work well together, as do raisin, eggplant and terracotta. Squirt 3-4 times with each colour randomly over the card, you want to have little bursts of colours. Don’t worry about the colours overlapping as they will blend together nicely.
  1. Heat set inks, once dry take a kitchen towel sheet and rub across the surface of the embossed pattern to remove some of the ink, you can control how much ink you remove with pressure. If you want to completely remove the ink from the embossed areas to create a faux batik effect you can use a moist baby wipe to lift the ink. Your background is complete.

Textured Variation:

This is an interesting variation of this background which creates a lovely texture.

Follow the directions above from Steps 1 – 3. Once the embossing has cooled; crumple the card into a tight ball, twisting and turning  the paper to create lots of creases, don’t worry if some of the embossing flakes off or if by twisting it you break the embossed areas; this is normal. Flatten out the card again, and then apply the inks following the main directions from step 4 onwards above.

This variation will not only create a brayered band resist, but the inks will seep into all the creases and folds in the card and breaks in the embossing to create a more textured background.

Background Samples:

Brayed Bands Cards:

This idea happened completely by accident!

The card on the right was actually created from scrap fax roll paper left over from brayering on a piece of shrink plastic which Id placed on top of this sheet!

I liked it so much it seemed a shame to waste it and throw it away so I decided to use them on my cards!

I bought some rolls of fax paper very cheaply, so cheap I use them for protecting my work surface when I am stamping and brayering.

I was brayering a sheet of shrink plastic using a Kaliedacolour Inkpad (bouquet & desert heat) and because the shrink plastic pieces where so small I was getting more ink on the scrap fax paper than on the actual shrink plastic.

By the time I’d finished I had a random brightly coloured sheet of background paper.

I decided the background was too good to waste, so I turned it over so that I would protect it, and I used the back of the fax paper to lay my pieces of shrink plastic onto while I heated them with my heat gun..then something MAGIC happened..well it seemed like it at the time!

As I was heating the shrink plastic I noticed the plain uncoloured side of the Fax Roll paper turned black!!

I stopped heating, thinking Id ruined my wonderful coloured background on the reverse, but it hadnt, infact the exact opposite occurred..the blackness of the heated fax paper actually made the colours of the brayered inks more vibrant and alive!!

And there we have it, the Fax Magic Paper Background Idea came about..

I cut the sheet of paper using my Triangle craft punch, and then using memories black inkpad, I stamped randomly all over the triangle shapes using a word background.

Next I arranged the triangles onto a sheet of black card in a hectogram shape and layered the card to finish

I thought I would work my way through Bernie Berlin’s ATC Workshop book and try out all the techniques and see what I can come up with. No doubt I’ll discover some twists by playing around.

Heres the first technique in the book which I have decided to try called ‘Intuitive Watercolour’.

The idea behind this technique is that your using the natural patterns which have been created by the inks to make a picture. You use the lines within the inks as a guide to draw around and make patterns and pictures. This part is certainly a challenge for me, and I didnt really like what I did all that much if Im honest. But I have to admit that I had a lotta fun trying it out and getting messy – my fingers are still hot pink and purple in colour!

I just love the vibrancy of the background and the colours in this technique!


Step 1:

Using watercolour crayons pr pastels (I used watercolour oil pastels) scribble to add colour aound the edges of your ATC as shown below:


Step 2: Using a wet paint brush, wet the paint and then drag it around the atc across the centre so that the whole card is covered in paint..

Step 3: While the paint is still wet, drop different colours of watercolour inks (I used posh impressions inks) onto the card. If the card isnt wet enough you can spray more water on top and move the card around to encourage the ink to move into interesting patterns. If you add too much ink you can use a baby wipe to mop it up. When you’ve finished use a heat gun to both dry the ink and move the ink around some more to make abstract patterns.

See below for my watercolour backgrounds:






For the next part of this technique you take a black marker pen and you use it to draw around the outlines which have formed between all the different colours. Look at the patterns in the paint where the colours have blended together and use the pen to highlight these areas and draw lines in.
So far I have done 3 atcs in this way, I found it hard at first, my first 2 attempts I have scrapped entirely as I hated them so much. But Im not too bothered about these 3 atcs shown below – I dont hate them, but I dont like them – I guess they will kinda grow on me, if at all. Ive decided for the other backgrounds I am going to overstamp using black ink with a really bold and prominent stamp design as I dont want to ruin them with my scribbles!

Heres the ones I did with the drawing as per the directions above:

intuitivewatercolouratc2.jpg intuitivewatercolouratc3.jpg


I have just finished stamping on the rest of the watercolour backgrounds, Im much happier with the stamped version! I cant believe how vibrant the colours areHere are the scans:



This background technique is another idea I have been playing around with recently, as you may well have already guessed I am a bit of a backgrounds addict:)

This technique utilises the use of clear sticky back plastic, the types used to back school books with, to create a clear protective covering. Sticky back plastic is available by the roll very cheaply from most stationers such as: office world, woolworths, partners, stationery box and many more.

What You Need

White Card
Archival Inkpad
Rubber Stamps
Clear Sticky Back Plastic
Blunt Object: I used the back of a spoon
Acrylic Paints

How To Create

1. Stamp your image onto the white card, for this technique you need to use non gloss card. Allow to dry.

2. Cut a piece of sticky back plastic to size, you want it to fit exactly over the image you have stamped. Peel off protective backing and stick over the image on the cardstock.

3. Next you need to rub over the entire surface of your sticky back plastic you have just laid down onto the card. I used the back of an ordinary kitchen spoon. Literally rub over the entire surface, the reason you are doing this is because it creates a stronger bond between the plastic and the card which you need for the next step.

4. Take your plastic covered stamped image to the kitchen, and place it inside a bowl of water for a couple of minutes to wet the card. Next hold under a running tap, and gently with your fingers push the card off the back of the plastic. Continue working until you have removed all of the card stock.

When you have finished you will have a semi translucent image which has been transferred to the front of the sticky back plastic. As if by magic! Allow to dry.

5. Using acrylic paints, squirt, stipple or sponge on different colours onto the side which you removed the card from, set aside to dry.

Once dry you can trim your plastic and attach to the front of a card blank!

Here are my creations:

I was playing around with some cd pieces the other day and I came upon this idea by accident

My latest addiction is the Credit Card Background technque and as I was playing with my cds I wondered what this technique would look like on cds too!

These are the results of my little experiments. They are really fun to make and make great pins!

What You Will Need:

Cd Pieces
Scrap Paper
Metallic Acrylic Paint
Fake Credit Card
Clear Embossing Powder
Plastic Container For Embossng Powder
Teflon Sheet or Baking Parchment
Heat Tool
Shrink Plastic
Stazon or Brilliance Inkpads
Versamark Inkpads
Rainbow Metallic Foil
Itty Bitty Beads

How To Create

1. Squirt little blobs (technical term here!) of metallic paints onto a sheet of scrap paper, I lined my paint blobs up in a little row.

2. Dip the edge of the credit card into the paint and lift a little paint, holding a cd piece in your other hand, swipe the paint from the credit card across the cd to transfer the paint

3. Immediately put your cd piece with wet paint on it, into a container of clear embossing powder, the powder will stick to the paint.

4. Place the cd piece onto your sheet of teflon or baking parchment, embossing powder side up. And heat the powder with your heat gun till it melts and goes clear.

While it is still hot, place back into the clear embossing powder for another layer. Reheat. Repeat this step until you have 3 to 4 layers of clear embossing powder. Set aside to cool

If you look at your cd pieces what you have just clear embossed, you will notice at this point they look like they have been enamelled with all different colours of embossing powders, but they havent!

You have used only clear embossing powder over the credit card technique to add your colour thus creating the illusion of enamelling.

They look pretty good left as they are, but I wanted to add a little more OOMPH to them as per directions below

5. While your Cd pieces are cooling, work with your shrink plastic, I stamped my shrink like so;

On the black shrink I used Gold or Silver Brilliance inkpads, and on the transclucent I used Black Stazon pad.

Some of the shrink I cut into shapes with Sizzix dies, others I simply tore to get a rough shape. Once you have stamped your shrink, heat it with an heat gun to shrink it.

6. Turn your shrunken shrink plastic embellishment over and swipe the back side of it with the Versamark inkpad, place immediately into clear embossing powder and apply heat.

You may well think Ive gone mad at this point, embossing the reverse of the shrink…but it will all become clear in a moment:)

7. By now your cd pieces should have cooled down a little and be safe to touch. Now you can get to work with your foiling.

Gently heat the surface of the clear embossing surface on your cd, you dont want it to become too hot and liquid, just warm to touch.

Carefully press a piece of foil onto the surface of the warm enamel, and apply a little pressure. I used my fingers to rub it, if its too hot for you, use a towel or something to protect your fingers.

8. Gently lift the foil and remove it from the cd piece, at this point you will notice some of the foil has stuck to the surface of the cd!

Depending on whether you are happy with how it looks, add more foil, using different colours, or leave it alone and move onto the next step!

9. Pick up your heat gun and melt the cd again, this time you want to get the whole cd hot so that the embossing powder starts moving and swirling, as you apply the heat, the foil starts to crinkle and takes on a texture all of its own.

Once the cd is heated, place into the container of clear embossing powder to apply another layer of ep.

10. Heat the surface of the cd to melt the layer of embossing powder you have just applied, and at the same time, reheat the back of the shrink plastic embellishment.

Once both have melted, press the shrink plastic gently into the liquid embossing powder to embed it. Use cocktail sticks or tooth picks to press it in firmly.

The embossing powder on the reverse of the Shrink acts as a kind of ‘glue’ and helps the cd, ep and shrink bond together better.

11. Heat the surface again, and the sprinkle on a final layer of clear embossing powder to seal the shrink plastic and the cd pieces together, and sprinkle on itty bitty beads to add hilights to your embellishments.

Now you have some funky card embellishments or pins! Have a go!

Mixed Media Samples